Feb. 19, 2016
Jamie Hughes has written a tender but candid piece on adoption on the valuable Her.Meneutics website. With her husband, she has adopted two sons.
My wife and I also adopted sons, twin boys, when they were three months old. We had prayed for twins for 16 years and, in God’s remarkable kindness, got them, although not in the biological way we initially anticipated. Our boys are now 18 and our daughter, adopted when she was also an infant, turns 13 next month.
What is striking to me about Hughes’ article is that practically everything she describes concerning the adjustments of having young adopted children could be said about having young children, period. None of us knows if our children, biological or adopted, will have exceptional physical, mental, or emotional needs. No one with a small child is unaccustomed to sleepless nights, meal upon meal of packaged food, or disruptions that are frequent, often unnerving, and, in aggregate, wholly draining. Young children are the sworn enemies of efficiency, privacy, predictability, order, and quiet. Always have been, always will be, adopted or biological.
The point of what I’m writing is that nothing Hughes mentions is unique to adoptive parents except, perhaps, various types of attachment disorder in some children and the occasional untoward comment from a tactless observer (“Are they yours?”). For example, as Hughes notes, “There are … holes in the boys’ childhoods, in my understanding of them and how they work, even in their medical histories.” That’s true -- but it’s also true for all parents, to one degree or another. Both of my grandfathers died before I was born. I’ve never seen anything about their medical histories and know them only through a handful of anecdotes. I knew my grandmothers barely before each of them died. My many aunts and uncles and some cousins have passed away from a host of causes.
In other words, children provide no guarantees concerning their health, intellectual capacities, motor skills, perception challenges, or any of a host of other things. Adoptive or biological, our children come suddenly into our lives and unmask our selfishness, our self-preoccupation, and our previously unknown resilience in the face of sleep-deprivation and emotional wornness. They awaken in us a fierce love and loyalty that can be arresting in its intensity. They are fallen and finite, filling our lives with joy, grief, regret, and gratitude. They are human, and they are ours.
Jamie Hughes is a lovely Christian woman whose account of her experience with her kids is beautiful. But her experiences are common to all parents, to all mothers and fathers who can hug a child and say, inwardly and with unspeakable contentment, “Mine.”